'Tissue is the issue': a multi-omics approach to improve prostate cancer diagnosis

Highlights 2021

Prostate cancer (PCa) is the most frequent type of cancer among men in Norway. Correct diagnosis of PCa is particularly challenging given the current lack of reliable clinical tools to differentiate men with a high risk of developing an aggressive and life threatening PCa from those with an indolent progression. Our goal is to stratify patients using novel biomarkers or signatures for accurate risk assessment and monitoring.

During 2021, our research focused on establishing and producing data using our novel prostate cancer multi-omics protocol on fresh frozen tissue material to increase the understanding of PCa aggressiveness (Figure). We have focused on methodology producing spatial information on metabolomics, proteomics, transcriptomics integrated with detailed histopathology to study the tumor and its microenvironment.

One highlight of 2021 has been our publication in Cancer Metabolism where we used MALDI (matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization) mass spectrometry imaging to investigate specific cell compartments. This study shows that specific tissue compartments within prostate cancer samples have distinct metabolic profiles and pinpoint the advantage of methodology providing spatial information compared to bulk analysis. We identified several metabolites and lipids that have the potential to be used as diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers for prostate cancer. Spatial and rapid detection of cancer-related analytes showcases MALDI-MSI as a promising and innovative diagnostic tool for the clinic. Currently, we are analyzing spatial transcriptome data where we have exciting new markers within the microenvironment in histopathological normal appearing areas in the prostate and where abstracts will be presented at the European Association of Urology in July 2022. For us the added value of being a part of a transdisciplinary center has just started by becoming a member in the end of 2021. We have already found interest in many of the representing projects both for collaboration and interesting methodology.

Project overview

Project lead: May-Britt Tessem
Institution: Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
Funding: ERC 1.5 million EUR
Duration: 01.02.2021 - 01.06.2023

Learn about the ProstOmics in four minutes in this video  

About the project

The main goal of the ProstOmics project is to improve diagnosis and prognosis of prostate cancer. The project will investigate relevant biomarkers and molecular pathways to discriminate aggressive from indolentslow-growing cancer. New biomarkers can avoid over-treatment and reduce work-load and economicburden for the health-care system and at the same time improve patient quality of life.

The ProstOmics project is highly transdisciplinary in using various in-front methodology within -omicsdata especially focusing on spatial information and the study of microenvironment andheterogeneity. The project have therefore several national and international collaborators within several of these scientific fields.

The project use integration of omics technology (metabolomics, transcriptomics, genomics, proteomics, metallomics) to study tissue samples and biofluids (urine, blood) from large-scale biobanks of prostate cancer patients. The main research aim is to discover and validate biomarkers and molecular signatures for separating aggressive from indolent prostate cancer.

Read more about the project here

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